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Biocatalysis-related Conferences Review [Domestic]

Hello everyone!

It is the obon holiday here in Japan, I have just finished labwork today, though. Catching up some wet-lab datas so I can go back to Indonesia for summer vacation peacefully ^^ This week, I would like to share about the review of biocatalysis-related conferences that I have been to (since some of my kouhai ask me about this as well)!

For the convenience of the post-length, I would like to share only my domestic conferences experience in this post. So, conferences in Japan are mainly held by certain society (yearly or biennially). Do expect a quite formal atmosphere (only suit is acceptable, i guess), and sessions mainly held in Japanese (although people are encourage to use English more and more).

Chemical Society of Japan (CSJ) Annual Meeting

link, next conference : March 2019, Kobe.

Japanese name : 日本化学会年会

In a glimpse : One word for this annual meeting, it is a really huge! It is held every Spring by Chemical Society of Japan. Every aspect of chemistry will be discussed in this conference. Conferences are usually held for 4 days with sessions held in parallel.

The conference location will always move from year to year. It rotates from Kanto (mostly Chiba, Nihon University) to Kansai, and to Yokohama

Attendances : 4 times, all oral A presentation (7 minutes presentation, 3 minutes Q&A)

Personal experience :

CSJ 2015 (Nihon University, Chiba) and CSJ 2016 (Doshisha University, Kyoto)

CSJ 2017 (Keio University, Yokohama) and CSJ 2018 (Nihon University, Chiba)

My experience attending this conference is always as an oral speaker. The one that i haven’t tried is oral B (20 minutes in total, only for PhD students 2nd and 3rd year).

I am almost always attending only the day where the biocatalysis sessions are held. Most of the presentations are in Japanese, still. So if you want to engage more, it is better to have Japanese ability. Because of the time limitation and scale of the conference, to be honest I did not really receive a lot of feedback from this conference.

If you have time to go to the poster session, I guess you can engage more! But do remember that the scale of the poster session is quite huge. If your research also involves new methodology you can also join the ATP (Advanced Technology Program Session). The next conference? I should go with oral B, I guess (20 minutes presentation).

 

The Society of Biocatalysis Japan : Biocatalysis Symposium of Japan

link, next conference : December 2018, Yokohama

Japanese name : 生体触媒化学シンポジウム

In a glimpse : Quite different from the huge society of Chemistry Society of Japan, the Society of Biocatalysis Japan offers more “homey” and warm atmosphere. My academic supervisor is a member of this society.  This society board members are only around 25 Professors altogether with people from industry, so it is more like a “family gathering” :). This conference is held every year (around winter) for 2 days.

Attendances : twice, 1 oral presentation (20 minutes in total) and 1 poster presentation

Personal experiences : 

Oral presentation

Oral presentation at 第18回生体触媒化学シンポジウム@ Tokyo

My experience as oral presenter was 2 years ago, when the conference was held in Meisei University, Tokyo (near Sanrio Puroland, lol). It was really thrilling since I use  English for my presentation language despite the conference was 100% held in Japanese that time (even now my Japanese is not enough for formal academic presentation, yet). The hall was quite big and inside the student session I was the only foreigner Doctoral 1st year presenter >.<  Nevertheless, I felt very honored to be the representative of my laboratory that time (one laboratory can only give only delegation).

Feedback was quite good, I think my Sensei gave me the opportunity for this to boost my confidence and train me to present big data (it was my first time presenting all my mutant library data orally).

Poster presentation

Poster presentation at 第19回生体触媒化学シンポジウム@Sasebo

The following year i participate again as poster presenter (I started a new research topic so I still have few datas that time). The feedback was way better, I think that was  the best poster session that I had so far 🙂 The conference this year was held in Sasebo, Nagasaki (so as expected the attendee decrease). Although the venue was remote, it was really beautiful. One more tips, the mixer (懇親会, in Japanese) is a very good way for networking and looking for your next academic position, tee-hee.

IMG_0594the most beautiful mixer venue, ever.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

By the way, actually my academic supervisor is hosting the next conference, The 20th Biocatalysis Symposium of Japan. Indeed, this is a great responsibility and seems like this year gonna be BIG, with BIG names coming, lol.

But I am all pumped up for this and ready to be my supervisor’s sidekick!

Up to now I have learned so many things even from the preparation. For example : how to keep a good Minutes of Meeting (MoM), how to write sponsorship invitation letter in Japanese, how to write the content of conference website, until how to order poster in publisher in Japan 😀

Nonetheless, this will be my last contribution for my laboratory, before graduating I hope I can give my best!

I will keep you updated for the next update of this conference, we are almost launching the website and flyer! I will also give you another story for my international conference experiences next week, so stay tune! 🙂

 

Love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

 

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Gordon Research Conference in a Glance

Hello all!

It’s just after typhoon number 12 here now in Japan, and it has been approximately 2 weeks after I went back from my academic honeymoon this year. So yes! *drumroll* finally I’ve got the chance to attend the conference I’ve been dreaming of since my first year of doctoral degree.

Gordon Research Conference – Frontiers of Science : Biocatalysis 🙂

So how what makes this conference so special?

It is a science concentration camp (in a good way of course)

The biocatalysis one is held every 2 years in Maine, USA. Different than other conferences that I have ever been to this conference is always located in a remote area. It was 2 hours bus-ride from Boston and practically there is nothing there (except the super pretty scenery!). Kudos to them for their aim to make the participant pretty much focus on the conference. We slept in the same dorm, eat 3 meals a day together, had sport activities during free time together, basically everything together! Indeed it is a science concentration camp, lol!

But let’s take a look! This concentration camp is really beautiful (The University of New England with its beautiful red-brick architecture is just located beside Biddeford Pool, beach, and Atlantic Ocean)

There is also so many delicious food everyday. And…. LOBSTER! LOL. And sometimes rice, I cannot live without rice…..

It is indeed, overwhelming (again, in a good way)

But well, yes, it is a little overwhelming (in a good way of course). Meeting faces you only read in the journal article. Seeing them presenting and really talking to them. (this year I finally met the author that I’ve been fan-girl-ing since 2015, Professor Musa M. Musa).

The sessions were not too long but the cutting-edge science inside it? It is quite overwhelming and sometimes could be heavy. Everyone is presenting the best research/technology/innovation in their field! It is like a biocatalysis all you can eat. Any enzyme you need? any new technique you’ve been curious about? any reaction? anything you want, you will find it in Gordon!

But i cannot deny, it is really tiring (at least for me). For me to be sober and to be able to take good notes on the next day, I have to skip the bar session every night. Nevermind, I do not drink alcohol as well 🙂

It is secretive, somehow exclusive

Researcher got to present their cutting-edge unpublished data here, so yes, no picture and no uploading to social media. The Gordon principle also lies on not trying to copy the idea you have learned or heard from here.  Yes secretive.

But you also have the chance to talk directly to those popular professors, and scientists. I got a lot of chance to talk with my idols, not a chance that you will have everyday. Indeed it is somehow exclusive.

By the way, I also attended the Gordon Research Seminar one day prior to the Conference. It is an excellent melting pot for young scientists to discuss their career path. The participants are mainly graduate students, post-doctoral research, and early career researcher. We also had a mentorship session with experts in many fields (also with many backgrounds, i.e : people going from academia then to industry or people going back to academia from industry). It was a very very nice experience for me!

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Participants of Gordon Research Seminar, just a day before Gordon Research Conference

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Matsuda Research Group in Gordon Research Conference

It made me feel worthy

Sometimes when you are in a cramped space (although you love that space too much) you will somehow limit and compare yourself in the sample size as small as that particular space. I am just meticulous old-fashioned me who like to draw with colored felt pen, put a lot of sticker in the experiment book cover, and personify my enzymes.

I am definitely not gonna achieve as lot as my Doctoral student peers in my lab, well, that is the reality that I have accepted. But in Gordon, somehow I feel more alive and worthy.

I asked questions in forum. Maybe my questions was stupid, but I still raise my hand everyday. Seeing how the professors respond me or how some people got to remember me because of me asking questions everyday definitely boosted my confident.

There was a mentorship session also in the conference. I got a one-to-one session with a female Professor from UK. She is really sweet and charming and of course super witty. Based on our sharing she valued me as a girl that had courage to learn crystallography despite of her originally microbiology background. She said that i should not feel down not having gazillions of publication. One solid publication is OK, one publication that can really explain what you are doing. There is nothing to be ashamed of 🙂 The conversation is too sweet.

So here I am now, home from Gordon.

I know I am pumped up because of this. I am excited because of this. I realize that science is really an interesting thing because of this.

But you know? I have to give a big thumbs up to myself because actually I am always feeling like this right? I love doing research just because I love doing it 🙂 I just need confidence boost to keep on doing this. I just need some confidence for me to think that it is okay to keep going on although slowly and not as good as other people.

Ok, so next will be Doctoral progress report. and next destination will be… Russia! ❤

I will participate in a short term student dispatch to Moscow State University next September as one of the Tokyo Tech’s participant. I am thrilled because this might be my last exchange opportunity as a student. Next October I will already be doctoral third year student. Probably will be my last year of formal education.

It’s been (let me count…) almost 23 years of non-stop studying. Fruitful years with many ups and downs :’) But what can i say? I love science and study so much 🙂

So no matter what your research level are, don’t give up and keep on going!

Love

Afifa

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この4年間ありがとう

Hello all!

I haven’t written anything in this blog for a month, I guess. The summer holiday was quite busy (doing experiment and doing experiment alone). However today, our laboratory has just finished rearranging the student room for the upcoming new students.

I got a very cool new place where I managed to put all my dolls, photographs, files, datas, and a monitor to assist me doing the protein structure study.

FullSizeRender 15

 

Now 8 PM, I am sitting here alone looking at this particular room with a lot of memories and I just want to share a little bit about my lab here 🙂

I just changed the attendance list on the door, and realizing that there will be 14 students now, it was 7, back then. So many memories, right?

 

Okay, my laboratory.

2012-2013 ようこそ

I’ve known this place from September 2012, yes, 5 years ago. At that time they just moved in to this place from the previous old building and I was an innocent (lol) exchange student knowing so little thing about Japan.

I was startled at first. I received an e-mail from Sensei saying that the topic of research will be green chemistry. At that point i did not even know what green chemistry is.

I came here and  the first experiment they made me do here is of course, organic chemistry, the thing i used to hate the most. But somehow I survive my exchange year and it became one of the happiest year in my life.

To be honest, I knew nothing about my research back then. I did random mutagenesis and if I saw my bachelor thesis again now I would laugh pretty hard to read my own methodology of library screening. But that year was very fruitful. Despite of knowing very little Japanese word, I managed to develop a deep friendship with everyone here.

写真 2013-06-27 16 09 23IMAG0260

 

 

2014-2015 so this is graduate school

Coming back here to start my master program, i was super optimistic for a month, probably. And then my experiment started to fail and fail and fail for months. I was pretty shock, since I used to be the girl who can finish everything  related to academic perfectly. So i guess, welcome to graduate school and real research life! ^^

I was pretty clueless, still, about my research. But i had a very kind senior that taught me everything so meticulously. He was nice but sometimes very strict, but he was nice, the nicest :’)

I will always remember what he said when he finally left the laboratory. I will always remember that he was proud of me that I can finally do the experiment according to his teaching. Really, I would not know how to survive my initial months without him by my side :’) After he left, I started to obtain good datas and I started to love my research so much. I could attend a conference and even applying for grant.

I remember saying to myself, “Let’s get it rolling!!”

Friendship was marvelous at that time, the good old days, with a lot of party and games!

IMG_8061

2015-2016 Establishing myself

I was in full throttle. Not only I had more and more promising results, my Japanese language gets better, and I could start teaching my juniors, and even do administrative things inside the lab. I was like a flowering flower bud, i guess. I would do my research non -stop and feeling happy about it. I would be very active in lab discussion. Even more, I got the grant that i applied for. I was also sent to represent my laboratory in more conferences, even 2 international ones. That was my very first solo trip to Europe :’)

IMG_4676

But of course, along with the joy, there were some drawbacks.

At that time it was still bearable, I guess. Work place rivalry and misunderstanding that turned into working place b*l*y*ng? I guess that was the right word to sum it up for short. That was hard. I did not remember how many times I would also sit on the laboratory’s floor crying by myself. Or to think how worthless I am for not being able to publish paper, yet, despite the promising result that I got.

But then, my mood was lifted up again by more good results, or more trust from Sensei or being able to teach my junior more. At that time, probably i thought things will get better from now on, but…..

2016-2017 To the hell of Ph.D Program, and life.

Welcome to hell, i mean, Ph.D program. It started with a month of uncanny behavior of my bacterias and maybe a month of uncanny behavior of myself. My reasons to cry bounced from research to a guy to research to a guy, everyday. It was tiring because at the same time, i had to put a brave and proper face as a Ph.D students. I would stay until late to finish my thing and try to fix my bacteria, and I would pretend nothing happen in front of my juniors in the other day.

It was also difficult to divide thoughts. I would stay in the morning and afternoon not doing my things fully but also assisting many people. At night I will have time for myself. I started thinking that maybe I did everything wrong,  I focused too much on other people and the laboratory well-being. But I also did not want to be that kind of unapproachable and ignorant senpai (senior).

To make things worse, a mega problem and misunderstanding happened in the lab. It was tiring and scary and stuffs. But I guess all of us learned something from that 🙂 It did not end there, though. Another problem arose from this Spring, a problem that made me question myself, as a human being. A problem that taught me to be independent and be brave enough to forgive and let go of toxic people from my life 🙂

 

But now, here I am. through thick and thin, i am still here 🙂

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I am a second year doctoral student, quite happy and well. I haven’t published anything yet but I’m pursuing for it. I am aiming for two kind of papers with combination of enzymology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, crystallography, and structure analysis.

I love my research so much, I even talk with my enzyme when no one’s around and give them honorifics like alanine-chan or tryptophan-kun, lol. My love of teaching and research grew more and more. It is more like a calling to solve all of this enzyme mechanism mystery (lol).

Am I still childish? Yes I guess. But definitely I am more mature than my 2012-version of me. My lab has a lot of freedom as well, but I guess it shaped me. I had to push myself to be obedient, to do research passionately without anyone telling me or scolding me; to be punctual and responsible for your work, to teach well, to respect other people, to be tough and continue working despite of the acknowledgment, most importantly, to love yourself and your research :’)

 

 

And, yes, uhm. This lab and Matsuda Sensei, thank you very much 🙂

研究室、この4年間ありがとうございました。また大切な思い出を一緒に作りましょう。また2年間よろしくお願いします。

I hope I can make the remaining 2 years here more fruitful and I can contribute more for this lab :’)

 

With loads of love

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema (almost D2)